Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Soccer: Wisconsin wins home opener against Western Michigan

Almost 2,000 fans welcomed the Wisconsin men's soccer team (1-0-1 overall) to the fifth annual PAC the MAC event Friday night at the McClimon Soccer Complex.

"To have all these fans here really gave us momentum going into the game," sophomore midfielder Drew Conner said.

The Badgers dominated most of the game by scoring the first three goals, but Western Michigan (0-3-0) scored twice in the last 10 minutes to finish the game 3-2.

The scoring started early with a perfect free kick goal in the second minute from redshirt senior midfielder Tomislav Zadro.

"[Their goaltender] gave me too much of an angle when he set his wall up," Zadro said. "I thought to myself, if I can get this on frame there is a chance it will go in. It set the tone and motivated the guys. It gave us wings to go on and play better."

Zadro helped provide the creativity on offense that Wisconsin lacked last season. The free kick came from a powerful forward run and the whole game had a much freer-flowing offense that incorporated textbook give-and-go's and creative one-touch passing.

Zadro missed all of last season recovering from an ACL injury.

The goaltender Zadro referred to was former Wisconsin goalkeeper Chase Rau, who transferred to Western Michigan after playing last season with the Badgers.

After getting beat on the free kick and then almost letting in another goal to Wisconsin a few minutes later, Rau settled down and finished the game with two saves.

The game turned more physical and chippy in the second half, but the Badgers kept on scoring.

Freshman forward Nick Jones scored a flawless volley that came on the rebound of a blocked shot.

Then, Conner dribbled past a couple defenders, carried the ball inside, then beat his former teammate from 25 yards out to make the game a commanding 3-0 in the 63.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

Conner was quick to dismiss the goal and the game against Rau as anything special.

"I didn't really think about it much on the field," Conner said. "We all know who [Rau] is, he was here last year. We knew he would be in goal today. When you are out there playing and moving the ball around, you aren't thinking about anything like that."

Head coach John Trask had very high praises for Conner, who came off a great freshman year and seems to be continuing on the same path, showing quality as a complete player.

"I've told Drew this many times, and I firmly believe this, he is one of the top players in the country for his age," Trask said. "That was him at his best, popping through the gaps and that strike from distance. He is a physical player, he is a two-way midfielder and that makes him a special guy. Drew was a difference maker tonight we expect that out of him."

Trask responded to the overall game with praise, yet attempted to avoid complacency from a team who has the potential to play better.

"I liked the confidence and I thought we brought the right mentality and at moments we looked very good, but that's got to be sustained over longer periods," Trask said. "It's easier when you are playing at PAC the MAC on your field against a team who has been giving up some goals already. But we did score three quality goals and I don't want to take anything away from these guys. There is a lot more in this group."

With the absence of Rau, 6' 5" freshman goalkeeper Casey Beyers started the season in net for the Badgers, and finished this game with two saves.

"I thought Casey played well," Trask said. "I don't think the goals were down to him. I could have left the starters in and maybe we would have gotten a shutout. We got a little lax in the back and the other team has nothing to lose so they got rewarded for that. It was good for the Western Michigan program that they didn't quit on the night."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal